October Apples, Sauced in a Star Anise-Brown Sugar Syrup

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….’today, in October sun, it’s all gold—sky and tree and water. Everything just before it changes looks to be made of gold.’ (“The Wide Net” by Eudora Welty, The Collected Stories)

This “changing-time” is apple season…days are still sunny and warm, but the evenings are cool and crisp. It is time to once again crank up the stove and do some more serious cooking. Apple Sauce is a favorite of mine, but it’s almost impossible to find any canned or jarred product that is truly satisfying. The best in the world is homemade and a bit chunky in my opinion.  I enjoy a bold flavor in my sauced apples so I often make my own.

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A few years ago I bought a hand crank apple peeler that clamps onto my kitchen counter and is honestly just so much fun to use that I sometimes get a bit carried away and keep on peeling ’til there is not much left but the core! For making apple sauce this is one kitchen gadget/tool that you must have.

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Beautiful apple peel ribbons.

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Apples from a neighbor’s tree.

I made up a simple syrup using cranberry juice, star anise seeds and brown sugar. The peeled and chopped apples simmer and cook down in this very flavorful syrup making the final product uniquely delicious.

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Apple sauce put up in wee jars so each bite is fresh.

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Pick some local apples and make up a batch of this recipe…any type of tart, crunchy apple works…spread finished apple sauce on toasted bread, a turkey or grilled cheese sandwich or serve with your next pork roast. These little jars make very nice fall/winter gifts as well.

October Apples, Sauced in Anise-Brown Sugar Syrup

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs tart fall apples – Honey Crisp, MacIntosh, Arkansas Black or Granny Smith
  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 cups raw/brown sugar
  • 2 whole star anise seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Peel apples & rough chop. Put in a stainless steel cook pot.
  2. Add the Star Anise simple syrup to the pot. Turn heat to medium high. Stir mixture until a soft boil begins then turn to simmer. Stir every so often to keep apples from sticking. Cook down until mixture has thicken but is still chunky.
  3. Remove pot from stove and stir in lemon juice.
  4. Spoon apple sauce into small glass jars with tight-fitting lids and process in a water bath for 20 minutes. Remove jars from water & set on a wire rack to cool. You should hear a soft “thump” when lids seal properly and they will be concave. Cool completely and store in pantry until ready to eat. Depending on the size of your jars this recipe makes 6-8 jars.

How to make simple syrup:

  1. Put 2 cups cranberry juice, 2 cups raw/brown sugar & 2 whole star anise seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved and turn heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until mixture thickens slightly. Set aside to cool. Use immediately or chill in a glass jar with a lid.

How to do a simple water bath processing:

  1. If you have a canner then fill with enough water to cover the size jars you are canning up to one inch above the jar tops.
  2. Place filled jars in wire rack that comes with the canner pan and lower it down into the water. Bring water to a rolling boil. Process jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. Turn heat off and leave jars in cooling down water for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove jars from canner to a wire rack and let cool completely. Jars will seal as they cool making a soft “thump” sound. Jar lids will be concave when jars are properly sealed.

Note on canning:

I have used a large stock pot with a round wire cooling rack sitting on the bottom of the pan instead of a canner kit. You just put the rack in the pot, place jars, not touching, on the rack & gently cover tops of jars with water. Continue the processing as you would when using a canner from this point on.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Chilled Crookneck Squash & Pea Soup – Bounty shared from a West Tennessee Garden

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West Tennessee folks have always been proud of their gardens. I have known this since a young child when everyone, rich or poor or in the middle,  had a vegetable garden…some small…some very large…all very neatly planted. Rows and rows of succulent peas, beans, tomatoes, corn and squash!

Your vegetable garden reflected who you were and your connection to your community. Sharing the bounty was a big part of it as well. One neighbor grew too much corn so it was shared with neighbors…another grew too many cucumbers to eat or pickle so the extra got passed on.

This beautiful cold soup was made from yellow crookneck squash grown in the West Tennessee garden of my friends, Anita & Larry Mullins.  A gift from their garden is an always a very deliciously welcome gift! The sharing tradition continues all the way to my Middle Tennessee kitchen.

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I combined these squash with some green peas from the Nashville Farmer’s Market I had frozen a month or so ago with an onion and some low-fat & low sodium chicken broth. Quickly simmered together until softened……

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….then blended until smooth & chilled for an hour or so.

Right before eating I stirred in a dollop of cold cream. Topped off with a handful of chopped up homegrown cherry tomatoes, sea salt & cracked black pepper.

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Every bite deliciously creamy and cool…every spoonful a “West Tennessee summer day! A big thanks to my garden friends!

  • Servings: ”4″
  • Difficulty: ”very
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chopped Yellow Crookneck Squash
  • 2 cups fresh, shelled green peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chilled cream
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add chopped squash, green peas, chopped onion, salt & pepper to a pan along with the broth. Cook just until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat.
  2. Blend in batches in a blender until smooth.
  3. Chill until ready to serve. Right before serving stir cream into soup. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top each serving with some chopped cherry tomatoes & more pepper & salt if desired.

Recipe: Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com